CAMPAIGN for the ABOLITION
Thai Law of lès majesté (Article 112 Thai Criminal Code)
and release of all LM and political prisoners in Thailand.
Press Release, 10 December 2011
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On December 10th the Action for People’s Democracy in Thailand (ACT4DEM) petition demanding the abolition of lès majesté (Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code will be handed to the Thai government, in company with several other petitions demanding Freedom of Speech and release of political prisoners in Thailand.
December 10 is International Human Rights Day. By coincidence December 10 is also Thailand’s Constitution Day . . the day upon which King Prajadhipok promulgated Thailand’s first Democratic Constitution following the abolition of Absolute Monarchy in 1932. (There have been 16 Constitutions since then!).
Despite the usual, heavy interference and attempts to censor the petition by Thai government agencies, the ACT4DEM petition, which was opened to the public on 25 November, has been signed by 52 organisations and 1,700 people, including many well-known academics, writers, film-makers, journalists and student and union activists. To stand up in this way for the principles of democracy in Thailand requires real courage.
The ACT4DEM petition will be presented with the ‘Charonchai Sae-Tang and Friends Appeal to The King’, with several smaller petitions, and with the ‘Stop the Bloodshed in Thailand’ petition, that was initiated on May 16, 2010, demanding withdrawal of Thai military forces from the streets, and handed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on October 26, 2010. Although the ‘Stop the Bloodshed in Thailand’ petition was immediately blocked by the Abhisit Governnment it was signed by 9,500 people.
Altogether the number of signatories calling for the abolition, repeal or reform of lès majesté and the release of political prisoners being presented to the Thai Government of December 10 will exceed 14,000.
Like any other people, the Thai have the right to Freedom of Speech, and like almost all previous governments, fearful of monarcho-militarists, the Yingluck government immediately adopted the easy ‘forgive and forget’ approach, which has been ridiculing the justice system in Thailand for decades.
The new government is absolutely not sincere about protecting Freedom of Speech. On the contrary it is imposing increasingly severe measures to restrict the use of cyberspace, and is imposing increasingly severe sentences under Article 112.
The Yingluck government is rigorously pressing ahead with Thaksin’s neo-liberal agenda and supporting the Crown Property Bureau’s monopoly on water management, in other words perpetuating the traditional (‘bricks, stone, sand and cement’) corruption that feeds the elite with mega-profit.
However, the fearlessness of this new government does not extend to the rectification of the issues for which the electorate gave them their mandate: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Association, and political justice. This government tells the people, as before, that they must accept ‘economy first’, that it ‘cannot act (on this or that issue) right now’, that the people must be patient etc.
For how much longer do Thai elitists imagine the people will accept and tolerate ‘Forgive and forget’ propaganda, while courts rule with enthusiasm against defenceless old people like Ah-Gong (61), sentencing old people to 20 years in jail because they somehow do not agree with the monarchists?
How many more so-called General Elections must the Thai people endure, before they receive a Government with the guts to place their interests first?
If Thailand is to find a sustainable and peaceful pathway to the future, the current political confusion must be unravelled, and the unravelling can only begin through the abolition of Article 112, to enable proposals for development to be presented in a simple, straight-forward manner, without risk of assassination, imprisonment, or victimization by royalist gangs, as if Thailand was still in the Middle Ages.
The Kingdom of Thailand cannot be seen to be openly denying Freedom of Speech and thought. It cannot be seen to be openly suppressing campaigns to abolish LM.
Since the launch of this petition less than 2 weeks ago, Thai government agencies have been attempting to suppress it subversively. The petition websites have been attacked at various points. The file ‘60 years of Oppression and Suppression in Thailand’ was deleted from the ‘4Share’ site that makes ACT4DEM materials available for downloading – a file that gave some data about 11 135 victims of political assassination and murder since 1947. Savethailand@gmail.com has been locked, and remains locked for some reason? Maybe Google has the answer, but what answer?
For 5 months the Thai Ministry of Communication and Technology (MICT) has been pressuring Google, Facebook and Youtube with arguments about why they should delete the accounts of people posting comments about the Thai monarchy that MICT agencies consider ‘inappropriate’.
We hope Google, Facebook and Youtube know how to handle Thai elitism.
In general, people in Thailand remain scared to say what they think and feel, and this fear is very real. For many people the only way they can express their feelings is by underground participation under a false name.
Yingluck Shinawatra’s government was elected by the people on July 3rd 2011. Yingluck received her mandate from the people. Although typical for Thailand, her government’s adoption of subversive methods to suppress Freedom of Speech is frightening and must be heeded.
We are slowly beginning to observe a more responsible reaction from the ‘international community’ – regarding human rights violations and the absence of Freedom of Speech in Thailand. Through the United Nations Human Rights Council, more than 20 twenty countries have openly started to question Thailand’s intolerant attitude to Freedom of Speech and it’s use of lès majesté – and started to indicate the need for improvement.
Despite elitist attempts to restore national and international confidence in Thai governance procedures and structures – without touching the laws of lès majesté, the struggle for people’s democracy will and must prevail.
The Campaign cannot be blocked because the road to sustainable development cannot be located while with the vast majority of the population live in fear of victimisation, of being victimised for even the legal act of signing a petition to repeal an article of law, and, at present, signing for the repeal of Article 112 can become a source of terror for the whole of a signatory’s family.
We must gather all sensible people into an army of peaceful resistors sufficiently large to break this monarchist culture of fear, so we can work with joy towards a free and fully liberated Thailand.
Whatever the result on 10 December – International Human Rights Day 2011 – the campaign to abolish LM will widen. Documents will be translated into more and more languages to reaffirm our determination to free ourselves from lès majesté, and to free the sisters and brothers who fester in jail because they do not love the king in the way that the MICT or military or some other authority think they should.
We invite all reasonable people and organisations to join this Campaign to abolish Article 112.
In signing this petition we endorse the democratic rule of law.
On behalf of all petitioners,
Action for People’s Democracy in Thailand (ACT4DEM)
ACT4DEM@gmail.com . . . www.timeupthailand.net
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Letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
This post is also available in: Thai